PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, CMC – President Jovenel Moise, insisting that he will not allow “anyone to put chaos and disorder in the country under any pretext,’ Wednesday said he was not corrupt even as opposition forces announced plans for more street protests later this week to force him out of office.
Not involved in corruption
“I am going to look you right in the eyes, to tell you today, your President, the one you voted, is not involved in corruption. Your President was never in corruption. The justice system needs to do its job and carry out an investigation,” Moise said as he addressed the 24th anniversary of the founding of the Haiti National Police.
“Persons who wrongly managed or used the government’s money, will have to respond to justice in a process that is just, balanced and without political prosecution and without bias,” he said.
Moise has been facing mounting pressure to step down after the report of the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigation (CSA/CA) into programs and projects funded by the PetroCaribe, an oil alliance of many Caribbean states with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment, was released.
Earlier this week, the state filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Port-au-Prince against those persons implicated in the PetroCaribe scandal, based on the report of the CSA/CA.
The CSC/CA audit found that significant shortcomings have been associated with the planning and implementation of development programs and projects funded by the PetroCaribe Fund during the administration of former president Michel Martelly.
The Court made it clear that, overall, relevant documents were missing in most of the projects and contracts reviewed and as a result it was impossible to conduct a comprehensive audit of several projects.
For example, the 610 page report found that in 2014, for the same project to rehabilitate the Borgne – Petit Bourg de Borgne road section, the State signed two identical contracts worth more than 39 million Gourdes (One Gourde=US$0.01 cents) with two separate companies.
Moise former company implicated
Moise, before he came to power in 2017, headed a company which received more than 33 million Gourdes to do the road work, though the company in principle did nothing but grow bananas.
Moïse said when he was running the company he was neither president, a government employee nor a presidential candidate..
The company in a statement earlier this week reacted to the report pointing to errors and requested that the authorities “make the necessary corrections in order to dispel any doubts and misinterpretations that could harm the image of the company”.
The company, AGRITRANS SA, said that it also wanted to note “that the contract for this project, signed on October 15, 2014, was regularly obtained, seen and approved by the CSC/CA after submission of the technical file prepared by the Civil Engineering Unit of the company and all other related documents.
During his address, Moise, who described himself as a child of a farmer, said he was being targeted because he declared corruption to be a problem in Haiti.
“When the President says that the biggest problem of the country is corruption they attack the morality of the President so that he doesn’t speak about corruption,” he said, adding that there was a need for Haiti to lift itself “out of its black hole”.
But in an immediate response, attorney Andre Michel, a leading opposition figure, tweeted that Moïse’s speech was a “provocation.
“The population needs to continue to mobilize until Jovenel Moïse gives his resignation so that we can do the judicial process for PetroCaribe and a national (dialogue) conference.”
The opposition forces have announced plans for street demonstrations on Thursday and Friday even as the capital showed signs of coming to life after the transportation strike that left the capital paralyzed.